Ananya Pathak

Wi-Fi, power backup, private kitchen among top amenities for travellers in Coronial era

As short haul trips to drivable destinations are on the minds of most city professionals, OYO, Airbnb and MakeMyTrip share top search trends for stays..

This year has been difficult for most of us. Staying home at all times is no easy job. As the country ’unlocks’ after almost six months, most working professionals in cities are looking for weekend getaways. While safety and hygiene continue to be on the top of people’s mind, their confidence in public transport is quite low. And so, there has been a noteworthy spike in road travels, mostly over weekends.

Online travel company MakeMyTrip’s (MMT) data indicates that searches to destinations in states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Goa have been increasing. Most of these queries are driven by young travellers, including couples and friends, who are willing to step out while taking all the necessary precautions.

“Our company’s weekend getaway holiday packages have also seen an uptick by 25 per cent when compared to booking numbers in January and February this year,” shares Sunil Suresh, chief marketing officer, MMT Group.

He adds, “Since travel restrictions began easing across states, we have been noticing a week-on-week increase in searches and bookings for workation packages to drivable destinations – usually within 300 km from home city.”

Suresh says that the brand is working with its hotel and alternative accommodation partners to ensure that people can book from a range of options that offer a comfortable set-up, with around the clock connectivity, power backup support, ergonomic furniture and more.

Sunil Suresh
Sunil Suresh

MMT’s data shows that bookings for staycations have increased by 30 per cent since ’Unlock 4.0’, as compared to the pre-COVID days.

In the north, MMT is noticing an increase in travel demand from people in Delhi-NCR, with many opting for staycations to nearby destinations. “People are searching and booking stays in and around Shimla, Kasauli and Manali. Down south, Bangaloreans have been leading the self-drive holiday trend, with people booking retreats in Coorg and Chikmagalur,” Suresh points out.

“Many are seeking a change of scene to inspire creativity and productivity. Over the past 90 days, 23 per cent of (our) guests searched for homes with Wi-Fi as a top amenity, followed by kitchens as well as private pools,” Airbnb India's Simran Kodesia, communications lead, reveals.

This trend is also supported by recent data, which suggests that over 20 per cent of all the searches on vocational rental company Airbnb, within the last three months in India, have been for long-term stays (more than 28 nights) at a property.

Kodesia says that people also want to travel affordably, and local travel adventures - whether a cosy farm stay, or other unique and personal formats - give them that option.

“An additional interest in amenities that offer a home away from home, is also a rising trend among travellers exploring long-term stays. These are the kinds of trends that are driving differentiated offerings, customer service innovation, and a focus on private spaces and homestays as uniquely suited to the kind of use cases the customer is looking for at this time,” she points out.

Some wishlisted properties on Airbnb also cater to the luxury amenities travellers may be looking for, including larger secluded open spaces, private pools, etc. Goa continues to be a richly sought-after travel destination on the platform.

Young travellers are also looking for larger properties and unique accommodations, such as tree houses, farm stays, lodges and campsites, Airbnb’s data suggests.

As per OYO’s recently launched ‘India’s Next Destinations’ report, Jaipur, followed by Goa and Kochi are set to become India’s top leisure destinations in October, November and December. The trend forecasts an upswing in demand for the alluring holy cities of India, including Varanasi, Shirdi and Haridwar.

On speaking with consumers, Ankit Gupta, chief executive officer, frontier and workspaces, OYO India and South Asia, and other senior officers from the brand found that while leisure travel will eventually come back, most travellers are looking for value for money and cleanliness while booking their accommodation.

OYO consumers say they choose the stay depending on ubiquity, ease of booking, sanitisation, affordability and flexible bookings, reliability and predictable experience.

Ankit Gupta
Ankit Gupta

“We’re also witnessing new travel trends of people working from ‘hotels’, while demands like staycations, official travel, and long stays are emerging as key use cases during COVID,” Gupta tells afaqs!.

“Higher hygiene standards, minimal contact service and enhanced credibility top the list of consumer requirements while planning travel after the lockdown,” he adds.

Touch experience during check-in/check-out, room service, food handling and packaging services also concern the consumers.

“We are also seeing significant growth in demand for private room options. Student housing and the co-living segment in real estate are poised for growth, as we notice some green shoots of recovery in the sector,” Gupta signs off.

As the demand for domestic leisure destinations, as a getaway from city life, is spike month-on-month, travel and stay booking aggregators are 'cautiously optimistic' of travel coming back faster than expected.

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